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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 32864
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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My 13 year old lab is having jaw spasms and her tongue falls

Customer Question

My 13 year old lab is having jaw spasms and her tongue falls to the side whilst this happens
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 4 years ago.
Aloha! You're speaking with Dr. Michael Salkin
I'm sorry to hear of this with Bessie. I would first carefuly examine her oral cavity for dental disease and cancers and if neither are found would consider her jaw spasms and deviation of her tongue to represent simple partial seizures. These were once called petit mal and are characterized by focal or asymmetric sensory or motor activity affecting any part of the body (e.g., facial twitching, chomping of the mouth) and can be associated with autonomic signs (e.g., salivation, vomiting). There is no change in mentation (mental status) with simple partial seizures.

In a dog of Bessie's age these seizures would most often represent a brain tumor - a mengioma, usually - affecting the forebrain. Unfortunately, basic diagnostic testing in the form of blood/urine tests aren't likely to clarify Bessie's behavior. We would need to MRI her brain - an inappropriate diagnostic for her in my opinion. Instead, I would encourage her being seen by her vet who is likely to prescribe anticonvulsive medication in the form of phenobarbital or levetiracetam.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.